Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Left Behind

The mornings have been hinting of fall, with frost kissed grass and leaves greeting the children as they run out into chilled air on their way to the school bus. Even though the "cool" teenagers like our 15 year old son still insists on wearing shorts, most reasonable people resort to fleece, wool, or at least long sleeves and pants.

When our 10 year old told me she needed shorts for gym, I was grateful to have found a few on a clearance rack for $2. Finding shorts this time of the year is almost a miracle -- finding them for $2 is unheard of.

Shorts in hand, I glanced at the rest of the rack as I began to walk away, and that's when something caught my eye.

A bright red pair of boys' swim shorts.

And another.

And a blue pair.

And another blue pair.

And another.

And more.

Seven pairs of swim shorts in all, typically $16-20 at full price, on clearance for $2 a pair.

The images came swiftly to mind -- the older boys, the ones left behind.

Boys whose only possessions in this world are the clothes on their backs -- usually consisting only of a raggedy pair of underwear and sometimes a t-shirt.

Boys who could benefit from swim shorts that dry fast and as such, will keep them more comfortable.

Boys whose birth family income was less than $2 a day, leading them to the desperate decision to sell a child.

On Lake Volta, it is typically more common to rescue young boys, as they are more vulnerable and less valuable to the slave masters.

The older, stronger boys, stay behind with the slave masters. Slavery is often the only life they can recall. They don't remember the taste of freedom.

As I plucked the swim shorts off the rack one by one, I consider that sometimes, the difference we can make seems so small and seemingly insignificant... but even when we can not do much, we must not shy away from the little we can do.

I thought of our boys, age 13 and 15, for whom a pair of swim shorts mean nothing. For whom water means fun and play.

The contrast is stark as I consider the 7 boys who will soon be wearing these new shorts, compared to the 2 who take so much for granted. My heart hurts for these 7 boys, unable to fathom what will go through their hearts and ours, as we pull away from their boats, unable to bring them to safety... but perhaps my heart hurts just as much for the 2 who live unaware and who seem to me the two who are left furthest behind -- by their spiritual slumber.

From slavery to slumber, the harvest is plenty, the workers are few.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

As I continue to prepare my heart for the ways in which it will be broken in Africa -- I know all too well that it's already broken, beautifully yet painfully broken, and it's in that brokenness that I feel Him closest.